One thing I’ve noticed since returning to NASA a few months ago is that the federal government is completely obsessed with cloud computing.  From the casual hallway conversations to the multi-hour strategic planning sessions, it is impossible to have a verbal I.T. related interaction without “cloud computing” being mentioned within that exchange.

Which is why last month’s announcement by Google that the Google Apps suite1 has acquired FISMA certification2 is a pretty big deal. 

OK, maybe that previous sentence understated this impact a bit.  Let’s try it another way. 

Google Apps and FISMA is a total game changer for federal government.

Here’s why…

$$$$$$

The Federal Government spends a ton running email and calendaring services.  Mostly using Microsoft Exchange.  Pick whatever set of numbers you want to use to calculate the yearly spending on these services.  There is no way it matches Google’s $50 per person per year license cost. 

Leave the email server headaches to someone else

Before I came back to NASA, I worked for a startup company that was using the Google Apps suite and GMail for their company email.   You know what never landed in my inbox?  A regularly notice telling me that Email services were going to experience a maintenance outage.  Managing email storage is a pain.  It requires specialist system administrators.  Utilization of the Google Apps suite allows that pain to go away.

Demand for Google Apps is already in place

Almost anyone that enters the federal government workforce using web-based email.  And a good deal of those people are Gmail users.3  Come to think of it, I’m not sure I know anyone who is using an OS loaded email client.  Unless their workplace requires it.  And that’s pretty much

Govvies are absoultely jonesin’ for decent workplace collaboration tools

I can’t tell you have many times I notice a two or more people at NASA working on something in Google Docs.  I’ve been seeing this for years.  Increasingly, people have been “going rogue” by exchanging their GMail addresses and working together in Google Docs and Spreadsheets.  This happens on a daily basis.  Personally, I must work on something NASA related with a fellow NASA person using Google Docs at least once a week. 

We’re constantly being asked to do more with less.  And in the area of efficient collaboration tools, they really mean less.  They mean practically none. 


  1. For you Web 1.0-ers  with your hand in the sand regarding this stuff The Google Apps suite is stuff like Google Docs, Google Spreadsheets, and more.  Basically, it’s a Web 2.0 posterchild 

  2. FISMA is basically a set of  government I.T. standard that have been estabished by the National Institute of Science and Technology 

  3. I haven’t seen any actual numbers on this, its just a subjective observation